Michael Degn, senior vice president of global sales, joined MultiLing two years ago and has made a great impression on the business. He is responsible for the management and output of global sales strategies, including client services and account management teams. Degn has more than 20 years of experience in sales leadership and has led sales efforts in the software and certification industries. He is known for his ability to build relationships with partners and clients, and for successfully managing and growing sales teams.
At MultiLing, Degn is particularly valued for his motivational management style. We had a chance to ask him some more questions about his leadership and vision for MultiLing’s future. Here is what he had to say:
What was your first impression of MultiLing? I thought MultiLing had quite a unique environment with all the different language teams working steadily, side-by-side, to make critical things happen on time for clientele all over the world. I loved the “United Nations” feel to the place. Everyone seemed to be enjoying what they were doing and everyone I met was so friendly. I felt welcomed at once.
What attracted you to MultiLing? It’s a great organization with a lot of moving parts—all working together and aimed at helping companies bring their inventions to life for the rest of the world. By helping these companies and their scientists translate their patents and file them around the world, we are essentially part of the process of offering new technology—and even new medical treatments—that can drastically improve the quality of life for so many. The people here take pride in that.
Tell us about your background and what expertise you bring to MultiLing. I’ve been involved in sales for a long time and have always enjoyed working in sales management. I have had the opportunity to work with several great sales organizations, as well as with some that weren’t terribly effective. I feel this exposure has given me a good understanding of what works—and what doesn’t. I love the team we have here at MultiLing—they are dedicated and smart, and always have our clients’ best interests at heart.
What do you feel are your greatest strengths? I’d say my greatest strength is helping a sales team reach its potential. I help them put together a scalable methodology and process that allows them to succeed. I also like to work with the operations side of the house so we are all focused on the needs of our clients. Having this specific familiarity really enhances our ability to both sell with confidence and deliver with excellence.
What is your leadership style? I guess you could say my style is motivational. I try to keep things positive and moving forward. I believe in hiring talented and self-driven employees—people who are smart. Once they have the right tools I just try to stay out of their way. Of course I offer guidance as needed, but then I let them do what they have been hired to do. Everyone on the team has a pretty clear picture of what we are trying to accomplish and where we want to be. There are few things I enjoy more on a professional level than seeing the individuals on my team succeed.
MultiLing has enjoyed some rapid growth in the past few years. How do you plan to continue the momentum? Success breeds success. When you are doing something right, people take notice and want to be involved. Our clients know they are being well taken care of and they help spread the word to others within their organization and to their counterparts throughout the industry. We also have a very capable and highly competent sales team—people who know how to help companies get the most out of the services we provide.
What are your responsibilities as head of worldwide sales? As head of worldwide sales, I oversee the efforts of all our sales regions. Together with the sales captains in these offices, we set goals and develop tactical plans. We do this for each region and then use the plans as a road map. Of course these plans have to be a bit flexible and we usually do some tweaking along the way. It’s important to keep the sales organization—and its goals and focus—aligned with the corporation’s vision and values. We want to continue to grow and I enjoy playing a part in making that happen. The best part of my job is getting to know all the people on our worldwide sales team quite well. As I’ve mentioned before, they are smart and I learn a lot by listening to them.
How do you define success in this position? My chief responsibility is to increase revenue. I’ve found when you focus on clients’ needs and you do what you say you will do, the revenue tends to take care of itself. Success is a natural byproduct of a sales team focused on building and retaining trust with our clients and working closely with our internal teams. It takes a lot of work and collaboration, but it can be quite enjoyable.
What are the greatest market needs you see? What solutions can MultiLing offer? Most companies are facing the challenge of tightening budgets. MultiLing salespeople love walking into a company and showing them at least one area where we can help them cut costs. With our streamlined translation model and proven processes, we are able to show our clients again and again how we can help them translate and file patents for a lower overall cost.
What do you most look forward to in this position? I really look forward to working with my great team. I love working with people who are more concerned about integrity than they are about the dollar. MultiLing is a company that likes to do things right—there are outstanding people who work here and it has been my pleasure to get to know many of them. As a whole, I believe we make a strong team. I have also enjoyed meeting the people we serve. I always look forward to visiting our clients, either in their offices or at conferences, and getting to know them on an individual basis.
Where do you see MultiLing in the next year? 5 years? I see MultiLing continuing to grow at a healthy rate. It can be hard to grow as fast as we are and keep the wonderful working environment that has been at MultiLing for the past three decades. There has always been a close-knit and warm culture within the walls at MultiLing and no one wants to lose that. I know everyone in the company is dedicated to seeing us grow and to maintaining the warm atmosphere in which we work. That’s what makes this place special and I think it is reflected in our work. So, five years from now I predict we will be much as we are today—only bigger and even more.